Cable TV

TV blackout hits Karnataka as MSOs protest 'double taxation'

BANGALORE: Karnataka's Multi System Operators (MSOs), switched off cable television signals today from 5 pm in protest against what they term as the "arbitrary demand of double taxation by the government", resulting in television blackout across the state.

MSOs said they had been served with "final assessment notice" by the Commercial Taxes Department (CTD) to pay entire tax liability since the year 2002 within a week's time.

"This is practically next to impossible as MSOs have not collected the tax from the cable operators. The cable operators have been paying the department directly," states an official release made available to the media this evening.

Meanwhile, a state government official contacted decried the MSOs' move to effect a blackout. "Why have they taken this drastic action instead of contacting the finance department? As per my knowledge, the discussions between MSOs and the finance mister are still on," the official said on condition of anonymity. Sindhia was unavailable for comment.

The media statement, signed by prominent MSOs such as Siti Cable, Hathway, Atria Convergence Technology, ICE Network and the state's cable TV body the Karnataka Cable TV Chamber of Commerce, says the strike is more so required because the the CTD has been very aggressive in terms of seizing the bank accounts of one of the city's MSOs which has virtually stopped its entire business operations.

The MSOs' argument is that the government seems to have ignored the various memos submitted to the state finance minister PGR Sindhia and the CTD with suggestions to avoid double taxation which has jeopardised the business operations of MSOs who have already incurred huge losses due to pay channel commitments.

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